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Friday, June 09, 2017

The Rise of the Machines

Is it possible that the machines have entered into a conspiracy to destroy the human race?

Well, of course not. That would assume machines think. They don't. This is the stuff that science fiction is made of. Doesn't actually happen. And yet ...

I wrote a piece in May entitled Tech Fallout that warned that technology, while perhaps amoral on its own, could have lots of unintended consequences. (I was somewhat surprised at the number of views that one got.) The truth is that our technology does have the capacity to harm us in ways we don't always consider.

The biggest effect, at the core, seems to be a disruption of human interaction. You might disagree, but consider. Many fast food places, faced with the specter of increased minimum wage, are considering automation. Let a machine take the order. Cut out the middle man. Automation has no unions, no minimum wages. And you won't be talking to that bored counter person. No human interaction. Recently I went to my local hair cutting place (sorry, "stylist"). They had a new system in place. Go to the machine and check in. Go to the machine and check out. "Talk to the machine, please. We can't be bothered with you when we've got work to do." There is human interaction with the stylist, but not with a person to check you in or out. And so it is with all sorts of automated systems. ATMs, self-driving cabs, automated checkouts, video games with artificial intelligence (AI) to allow you to play against a computer rather than a person. Even Internet porn -- sex without human interaction. Consider the factory automation that has come our way already. Sure, there were lost jobs. But what about the lost camaraderie? What about all those people who worked side by side and took breaks together and made friends with each other and got together after work? No human interaction. Consider the simple process of texting. There is, of course, human interaction here. You send a text; you receive a text ... we're interacting. But it is disconnected, disjointed. There is no face, no humanity. Beyond the actual process, I've seen too much "walking and texting" to doubt that it also causes a disconnect between pedestrians and the rest of those around them. Microsoft did a study and found that, due to our technology, the typical person's attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds ... which is less than your average goldfish. Try to have a human interaction with only 8 seconds. Thank you, technology.

A single event and you consider it a single event. A trend, and you might begin to consider it a concerted effort, maybe even a conspiracy. Now what do you think of the original question? Is it possible that the machines have entered into a conspiracy to destroy the human race?

No, of course not. But that doesn't mean there's no conspiracy.

1 comment:

Bob said...

the other night i was watching two episodes of "deep space secrets" the first episode discussed details about black holes, in the end they showed a super collider that was designed to create a momentary black hole.
the second episode discussed the nature of star formation. in the end they show a lab where a machine was designed to create a momentary star.
just wonder what might happen if things got out of control?
but hey just like in robo cop., it's only a glitch...